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D. A. Rajapaksa and Mahinda Chintana



President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi at the 41st D. A. Rajapaksa commemoration ceremony at Tangalle. Minister sChamal Rajapaksa, T. B. Ekanayake look on.



Statue of D. A. Rajapaksa at Tangalle.
Pix: Sudath Malaweera

It is a great honour and privilege to write about a great man instrumental in changing the destiny of fellow citizens at a time when a change was badly needed for the nation. The nation was in need of drastic changes for the benefit of the common man who was overlooked and forgotten. Nature of backwardness and suppression by the colonial masters and their local agents in the Deep South during that era was amply demonstrated in the book "Village in the Jungle" and the administrative notes of Government Agents who were as powerful as provincial Kings during the foreign and foreign led administrations. As Leonard Woolf explained in his diaries, deep down South depended on dry agriculture and irrigation. Irrigation in fact was the basis of ancient civilization which was neglected by the British as their intention was to cultivate newly introduced commercial crops such as tea, rubber and coconut for the benefit of the British Empire. Peasant had no place in the society. Their properties were confiscated or forced to sell.

Legislation was brought in to acquire uncultivated lands by the state to grow commercial crops. The livelihood based on irrigation and cultivation was nearly ruined forcing the native population to be labourers or unemployed. Don Alvin Rajapaksa popularly known as DA realised the problems and difficulties of the peasants due to the shortage of land and a proper system of irrigation for cultivation. He himself has been a farmer and engaged in dairy farming and cattle breeding. He enjoyed and engaged in farming as his profession.

"Buddiagama" and "Madamulana" the birth place and the origin "Rajapaksas" is part of our history, today having produced the Executive President and a number of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament. There was hardly anybody in Ceylon to look after the common man until educated youth in the 1930s explored the world for education, and returned with new National minded and anti imperial sentiments. The colonial masters were compelled to give concessions based on the conviction that Ceylon is capable of minding their own affairs. Slowly and steadily political and administrative powers were transferred to locals in stages. We were far ahead of Africa and South Asians were considered to be the pioneers in obtaining partial self-rule and independence from colonial masters. The ripple effect spread length and breadth of Ceylon and provincial leaders emerged all over the country. Indian freedom movement influenced our influential and educated community. D. B. Jayatilaka, Arunachalam, T. B. Jayah and many young and able were in the forefront agitating for freedom when Indian freedom movement was in the peak when Gandi Nehrue and the leaders were pressurising the British Empire to liberate the colonies including the Indian Sub Continent. Whilst the leaders of Ceylon freedom movement were agitating in the centre DS, NM, SA, Colvin, DM, DA and colleagues organised the peripheries.

D. M.'s sudden death

D. M. Rajapaksa's sudden death on May 18, 1945 created a vacuum in Ruhuna and the Legislative Council. DA was virtually compelled to sign nominations due to the pressure of peasants, Sangha and the public with whom he has had a close rapport. He signed nominations whilst in the paddyfields. He was elected uncontested at the by election on July 14, 1945. He tried to help the peasants by implementing a procedure to lease state lands in small and large scale, for cultivation and commercial crops in order to uplift the living conditions of peasants in the district.

Honest and simple

Until his death in 1967, he led an exemplary, honest and simple life. He was not inclined to accumulate wealth. He did not own a vehicle at the time of death. He laid the foundation for the children to be in politics by grooming them to be honest unassuming and people friendly. He found it hard to educate the children with a large family with his income from cattle and paddyfields. His wealth has been the goodwill and closeness to people and relations. His political thinking and strategy was simple and straightforward. He took quick decisions independently and instantaneously. The decision taken by him in July 1951 to cross over has been the most important and crucial decision taken ever in his life as he had a bright future in the UNP, had he stayed back. Mr. S. W. R. D. did not know DA too was crossing over until the fateful and brave act of DA, who took this hard and independent decision independently. His decision has changed the political culture and the introduction of Westminster modelled democracy and two party system in Sri Lanka. He has long thought and waited for the opportunity to take this most crucial decision. Therefore he is a co-owner of the achievements and the changes. Thereafter he stuck to the party he formed and the children followed suit. DA and children were the most faithful and reliable for the party and the people's movement. He had many responsibilities, a large family and peasants to look after, who were depending on him. His decision to cross over changed the entire fabric of the Nation in all respects. He realised the only way to serve the downtrodden and suppressed peoples is by changing the entire outlook of the social fabric. History has proved him correct. Today the backward and downtrodden district he nursed is producing large number of educated professionals, intellectuals spread throughout the country and worldwide as a result of the liberalisation of education and encourage the village youth to educate and look forward for professionalism and employment.

Biggest risk

He has taken the biggest risk in life by taking the independent decision to cross over with no sound financial or professional background as SWRD. He realised the need to change with Oxford background and subsequent political experiences. DA realised it with his education commitment and dedication to the peasants and downtrodden in Ruhuna. DA had a family to look after with no sound financial backing and followers awaiting his political success for their future. SWRD was exceptionally wealthy and professionally qualified. He had many other options, whereas DA has only a few options. The decision taken by both leaders changed the political culture and introduction of Westminster, two party systems in action. SLFP started initially with 6 members and the welcome speech at the inauguration was made by DA and the party chose the hand as the party symbol; the symbol, DA chose for his elections in 1947. This shows DA's long sighted vision and strategies. DA's son Mahinda after 50 years made the same welcome speech at the party and currently the leader of the SLFP DA formed with SWRD and colleagues. All his sons have pledged to follow his vision and intentions, out of which Mahinda, Chamal, Gotabhaya and Basil are in the forefront. Mahinda is the star of the family and the other brothers are in the team assisting the leader in the implementation of DA and Mahinda Chintana.

Mahinda Chintana was not a spontaneous vision or a sudden emergence of a plan of action. It is a gradual transformation of the thinking, vision aspirations of the peasants and downtrodden in Ruhuna which is not different from other parts of the country and the directions of the elders who were committed and dedicated to serve. Mahinda was elected by the people for a period of 6 years as the Trustee of the nation to implement the program and the vision formulated based on the program vision and action plans tested and implemented by elders of the family.

Mahinda Chintana states "A ruler is only a temporary trustee and not an owner of your children's heritage" and it is happy to note that Mahinda is living up to the expectations of Mahinda Chintana and the wishes of the people.

Rajapaksa family is active in politics over 70 years, which is rare in any slandered in the field of world politics. Medamulana produced the first Executive President from Ruhuna and a number of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament from the same family. DA is responsible and should be credited for laying the foundation and guiding the younger generation to implement his vision and wishes.

Prosperous village

Mahinda Chintana under A PROSPEROUS VILLAGE states as follows. "My life has been blessed by the winds of purity and fragrance that sweeps across the fields of "Kurakkan" (millet) in our village. The village life has created a deep sense of love, affection, environmental consciousness and spirit of innovation that had helped nature the dream such that I have for all village communities of Sri Lanka...I wish to have all villages of the country emerging as micro-centres of growth on modern lines, whilst retaining the strengths impressive and future of rural life that had perished over the past few years."

When the world is in economic and political turmoil engulfed in credit crunch which has destabilised the economies of giants, we are comparatively stable due to our local and village based economy founded on agriculture. DA's simple village life devoid of sophistication and unlimited consumerism has proved to be the solution to meet the challenges and demands.

Village needs only basic consumer items and services; not a complicated lifestyle and way of life. What is in need today is a developed road network and modern communications facilities to curtail unwanted travel. Mahinda realised these realities and at every available opportunity addressed the needs and implemented innovative methods. DA as well as Mahinda were not given traditionally powerful Ministries. Mahinda was trained from childhood to manage with available resources. He too led a simple and hard life devoid of sophistication. As the Minister dealing with the road network he introduced setting up of roads right round the country. He mooted knowledge centres and has set up over 600 Nanasalas to enable the wealth and the knowledge of the village to be enhanced. He mooted access roads through Maga Naguma and infrastructure development. He made weak Ministries workable and powerful.

DA Chintana and Mahinda Chintana

This remarkable transformation of DA Chintana to a more vigorous and dynamic Mahinda Chintana has been proved correct and acceptable by the local as well as the world in turmoil today. World is pleading to revert from the urbanisation process to the village life again. Today 50 per cent of the world population live in urban environments. They say this should change. DA never stayed in Colombo after the Parliamentary proceedings and other commitments. He came back home, to live with nature and his people.

Water as life blood

Water is the life blood of farming and is one of the prime resources of our country. Mahinda Chintana is firm that the owner of this resource should be the people of this country. DA had a plan to set up a network of small tanks for irrigation and cultivation. He initiated large and small scale tanks which have catalysed food production to the current magnitude.

Mahinda through Mahinda Chintana has improved this further as follows in Mahinda Chintana "It is my intention to complete the 10,000 tanks program and implement multipurpose irrigation schemes such as Moragakanda, Uma Oya, North Central Main Canal, Duduru oya, Menik Ganga, Kumbakan Oya, Yan Oya, Hada Oya, Kirima Oya and Urawa".

Mahinda and father

Under paddy and other Food crop production, Mahinda affectionately speaks of his father as follows" My father washed his hands from the waters flowing from the sluices of the paddyfields before signing his nomination papers. Therefore the terminology associated with paddy farming is not alien to me. Over the past 40 years, I have been dreaming about farmer families in their own decent homes, with two wheel tractors and paddy storage facilities. I believe that I will be able to finally realise this dream." Mahinda has addressed paddy and other food crop production, seed production, fertiliser Agro Technology and financial resources, other crops, plantation and dairy industry.

Dairy industry

DA has been one of the leading cattle breeders in the district. He had the goodwill and influence right round the villages. It is a pity that today 7000 cattle are slaughtered daily, and the local production of milk is only 20 per cent which today is in further decline. In the West the powdered milk is being used as sweeteners though we consume it in place of liquid milk. We were self sufficient in liquid milk until the Milk Board and the production were done away with and the introduction of imported powdered milk by multinational companies. Mahinda Chintana has addressed this in line with DA thinking as follows "I will provide cross bread milking cows to rural families on concessionary plans. Land, water, equipment and technology required by local entrepreneurs to establish small and medium scale livestock farms will also be provided. I will encourage the consumption and production of fresh milk".

Mahinda vision

In the entire length and breadth of the Mahinda Chintana the main thread has been the vision and thinking of DA and the aspirations of peasants of Sri Lanka. Mahinda Chintana states "Mahinda Vision has been based upon the proposals and suggestions of thousands of my fellow citizens who have been closely associated with me over the past 37 years of my political journey". His political journey was moulded by DA and the power behind and the vision based on. An Undivided Country, National Consensus an Honourable peace is the main theme in the most challenging threat to the nation on terror and terrorism which has taken the nation backward economically and internationally. Chamal, the eldest son of DA who is an unassuming and quiet politician with similar features and temperament of his father. Gotabhaya is performing so well in his area of expertise having won over the confidence of the nation in the humanitarian, liberation and war on terror. Basil is hard working and means business, who is capable of performing any job entrusted and his recent shuttle diplomacy has shown his expertise and abilities in the area of international relations. These are assets to Mahinda and the nation at this hour of need.

The major part of the credit for the success of his children should be credited to DA and his beloved wife Mrs. Samarasinghe Dissanayaka who moulded the lives of children to be patriotic people friendly and religious.

Hambantota district is fast developing in all respects. The emergence of an international harbour, airport, industries, cultivation, irrigation and the educated youth in every household is a reflection on DA his vision commitment and long and arduous hard and public duties. In addition to public duties and service to the people, DA has helped thousands on personal basis. On a personal note this writer remembers with a sense of gratitude that it is DA who laid the foundation to mould his education and upbringing at some stage in his life. Mahinda has a long way to go in order to bring this nation to glory. It is the duty of every one of us to help him achieve the aspirations of the people in our own interest. He has gone beyond an individual. He is a personality who heads the Government and the main branch which is the Executive in particular.

Mahinda Chintana is the future and the future program of and for the nation. It is time to shed all political and other differences until we lay the foundation of success and glory.

The writer is a Solicitor in England and Wales- Founder D. A. Rajapaksa Foundation in the United Kingdom

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